CHICAGO -- John Danks had a reunion of sorts Saturday, and it made him want to start a celebration right there on the U.S. Cellular Field mound.
The Chicago White Sox left-hander, who underwent shoulder surgery three years ago next week, never figured to meet another 93 mph-fastball out of his left hand ever again, but there was the radar gun reading Saturday, up on the scoreboard for all to see.
"The first time I looked up and saw 93, I wanted to throw confetti out there," Danks said.
He kept the party spirit going by giving up just one run on three hits over 5 2/3 innings to the New York Yankees in an eventual 8-2 White Sox victory.
The plan the last two years, since Danks has been back in action, has been to figure out how to be more of a crafty left-hander. There have been some highs, but mostly lows, as the reinvention hit snags along the way.
Suddenly, there is a potential scenario in which Danks can now use what he learned about surviving with limited velocity, and merge it with something resembling his old fastball.
"Tonight's the best stuff I've had in two years," said Danks, whose two second-half victories are more than Chris Sale has delivered. "I would say since the All-Star break, my stuff's gradually gotten better. It's nice to see it coming back a little bit. I don't know if that had anything to do with my command or if I was just off. But it's nice to be able to reach back and throw a respectable fastball."
Danks (6-8) has given up one run or less in four of his last six starts. Of course the other two saw him give up six runs in each, but the idea that he can dominate teams on occasion is promising. His eight strikeouts tied a season high.
"Yeah, early on he had a little extra to it," manager Robin Ventura said of Danks' fastball. "It was firm and he had a good changeup. For a while, he had a rut there where he had a couple walks leading off the inning to get himself in trouble, but he found a way to get out of it."
Where rookie Carlos Rodon became less attracted to the strike zone when he had runners on base Friday, Danks worked harder to get the ball over the plate. He let his defense do the work and impressive plays from Avisail Garcia, Adam Eaton, Carlos Sanchez and Alexei Ramirez were key.
But it wasn't just pitching and defense, as the high-voltage offense from the most recent road trip returned after a two-game break. Ramirez hit a home run and Melky Cabrera once again collected multiple hits, one of which was a three-run shot that helped the White Sox take control of the game.
"I don't know what our average is of late, but it's been great," Eaton said. "I think defense really correlates to better hitting and better pitching. The more you have better defense, the more outs you're going to get, less hits you're going to give the opponent and get right back in to hit again. Pitchers feed off that as well. So I think if we continue to play good defense, our hitting will come along and our pitchers are going to help us out."
It was a concept hard to argue with Saturday as the White Sox kept making plays and kept scoring runs. The momentum from their recent road success seemed lost when the Boston Red Sox defeated the White Sox 8-2 on Thursday, and the Yankees won 13-6 on Friday.
"Last night, you're disappointed with the way it went, but the way the road trip went, it's nice to score like this again," Ventura said. "I think that just picks up where we were as far as the momentum we had on the road, swinging the bat and having some offense. It's nice to come home and do that, as well as to get it right back on track."
And if Danks' starts no longer have that cross-your-fingers-and-hope feel about them, then perhaps more extended winning streaks are in the team's future. Can Danks envision even more velocity returning?
"I hope so," Danks said. "Heck, I didn't expect 93 [mph] to ever come back, so, hopefully. I'll just keep doing what I've been doing. I worked hard, had a lot of coaches and teammates helping me out along the way over, shoot, the last three or four years. Hopefully I can stay the course and we'll get a little more, but I feel good about where I'm at. I feel like I have plenty right now to give us a chance."
"We put last night behind us and understood that we had a game to win today," Danks said. "We've just got to keep winning ballgames. We've said that all along and that's still true. We've just got to win as many as we can and see what happens. And to do that, you've got to put the good and bad behind you."